July 2, 2006
Chara one big bad BruinDefenceman bolts Sens for Boston
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
The Big Z is bound for Beantown after he scored the biggest deal on Day 1 of free-agent shopping.
The Senators defenceman is gone, but he won't be forgotten because he decided to accept a five-year, $37.5-million (all terms US) agreement, which includes a no-trade clause, with the Bruins on the opening day of free agency.
As the 30 NHL teams went to market, Chara proved to be the most valuable free agent out there as he picked up an average of $7.5 million per season.
Not only that, sources say Chara could have accepted a deal worth $8 million per season from Los Angeles, but wanted to stay in the Eastern Conference and was comfortable with the fact Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli is taking over the Bruins' front office.
"(Chara) is disappointed to be leaving Ottawa, but he's excited at the prospect of playing for the Bruins. This is going to be an exciting challenge for him," said Chara's Boston-based agent, Matt Keator, who had a deal done less than three hours after his client hit the market.
SAVARD IN FOLD, TOO
The Bruins were thrilled to get him and later in the day signed Atlanta centre and Orleans native Marc Savard to a five-year, $20-million contract.
Savard, 28, is coming a career year in which he had 28 and 69 assists for 97 points with the Thrashers.
"There were 30 teams after Zdeno Chara and we were lucky to be one that got him," Boston assistant GM Jeff Gorton said last night. "We went into this hoping we could get him and everybody here is really excited. The players have been calling the office and telling us how excited they are about having Chara and Savard joining us.
"There were rumours that people didn't want to play here and so this signing put those to rest. As soon as we got Chara under contract, then Marc Savard was excited about joining us. This is a huge signing for us. It really is."
No kidding. And a huge loss for the Senators. Chara played 30 minutes a night in Ottawa. The Senators also lost fifth defenceman Brian Pothier, who signed with Washington.
"We were thinking about signing a couple of guys, but when we got Chara we didn't need to sign anybody else because, as you know, this is a guy who can play the role of two defencemen," said Gorton.
Longtime defence partner Chris Phillips was disappointed to hear the Big Zee has decided to move on.
"This is a huge loss to the team, he played a lot of minutes," said Phillips. "He was my partner for four years and it will be very different playing with someone else."
Chara, whose best offer from Ottawa was $6 million a season, is happy to make the move.
"I was very impressed with how professional and straightforward Boston was in pursuing me," Chara said in a statement last night. "I want to lead this team by setting a good example with my work ethic, drive, dedication and discipline. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I look forward to having this team compete for the Stanley Cup in the future."
Senators GM John Muckler had hoped he would have been allowed to make a counter offer.
"I just wish (Chara) and his agent would have given us a number in negotiations," said Muckler. "Obviously, $7.5 million is too much for us, but would have liked to have had the opportunity (to make another offer)."